Red Eye Chicago
Reservations not a problem: Bourdain does the dirty work
Anthony Bourdain suffered quietly as he dined on wart hog—encrusted with sand, fur and fecal bacteria—in the African country of Namibia.
Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” finished the meal knowing he would become terribly ill. But who was he to complain as a VIP guest of the same arid landscape where Angelina Jolie delivered Brad Pitt’s baby?
Spitting out nasty bits of wart hog would be rude to the locals he was dining with.
“The chief is there in front of his whole tribe offering you his very best,” Bourdain said. “Show respect. I’m lucky to be there. I’m lucky to see that. I’m lucky to have that experience. Chewing some antibiotics is a small price to pay.”
Taking culinary risks is nothing unusual for Bourdain, a former New York City chef and obsessive gastronome whose appetite for food and adventure has few limits. As the sardonic explorer of “No Reservations,” an off-the-beaten-path look at cultures and cuisines that airs at 9 p.m. Mondays, he famously chowed down on raw seal in Quebec, eyeballs and all. He also sampled stinky tofu in China and fermented shark in Iceland. In a previous series, he swallowed a still-beating cobra heart in Saigon.
“If you see me eating on the show, I really eat it, and more often than not I have seconds,” Bourdain said. “I’m in it for the long haul. I might see that guy again.”
With final say on the show’s destinations, Bourdain finds himself drawn to places with “tragic histories. Pathos. I’m looking for kind of a dark or kooky side.” He prefers Asia, an “enduring passion,” and learned his lesson from taking the crew to Sweden, where “everybody’s happy and everything works. Hate that.”
On Monday’s episode, he accepts an invitation from a friend to check out the cuisine in another exotic place— Cleveland.